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Tag: F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Phatsby

Friday, 26 August, 2016 0 Comments

Just in time for our annual reading of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic jazz age novel comes news that The Simpsons will hit their 600 episode milestone later this year and the series will celebrate with a 60-minute special titled “The Great Phatsby”, which will be shown in January. The story focuses on Mr Burns and his friendship with a hip-hop mogul called Jay G (a nod to Jay Gatsby and Jay-Z). The action will take place in the Springfield Hamptons with Homer providing the narration in a Nick Carraway manner.

“This was just going to be a regular episode but the table read went so well, in a fit of passion and excitement and ambition and excess, we decided to supersize it,” executive producer Matt Selman told Entertainmnent Weekly.

The Great Phatsby will also see Marge open her own boutique store and Lisa snag a rich Bae, while Empire‘s Taraji P Henson will voice a “Simpsons version of Cookie” called Praline who helps Homer, Bart and the gang take their revenge on Jay G after he takes over the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Until then, there’s the timeless original.

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that registered earthquakes ten thousand miles away.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


Gates and Gatz

Tuesday, 31 May, 2016 1 Comment

Don’t want to let the month of May end without mentioning the Top 10 Books chosen by Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, billionaire, philanthropist and avid reader. Aaron Hicklin, proprietor of the bookshop and website One Grand Books, has been asking people to name the 10 books they’d take with them if they were stuck on a desert island and Gates responded with a mix that ranges from sci-fi to business to biology. Included is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The novel that I reread the most. Melinda and I love one line so much that we had it painted on a wall in our house: ‘His dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.'”

Think about that sentence for a moment:

“His dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.”

How many good people and how many awful people have shared the same dream of success only to see it slip from their reach? Some accepted defeat with grace; others were driven mad by failure. Jimmy Gatz failed vulnerably, unflinchingly, memorably.


Kardashian Gatsby Kanye Warhol

Monday, 9 November, 2015 0 Comments

People: “Daughters Kendall Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian were the bee’s knees in their throwback costumes, with the Victoria’s Secret catwalker channeling Daisy Buchanan and the single mother of three looking dapper as Jay Gatsby.”

For those who do not read People Magazine, Kristen Mary “Kris” Jenner, who has just celebrated her 60th birthday, is an American television personality who is famous for starring in the reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Among the 250 guests at her Gatsby-themed party were John Legend, Boy George, Melanie Griffith and Kanye West. Contemporary Gatsby fans will be aware, no doubt, that No Church in the Wild, a song by Kanye West, featured in the 2013 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby by Australian director Baz Luhrmann.

Which brings us back to the Kardashians. Who are they? “Andy Warhol would have been transfixed by them,” wrote Lauren La Vine. “They’ve managed to not only run down the clock on his assertion that, ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,’ — but also hurl that clock out the window and smash it to pieces.” Perhaps it was fitting, then, that Kendall Jenner decided to “channel” Daisy Buchanan at her mother’s party. What was it that F. Scott Fitzgerald said of the Buchanans?

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” The Great Gatsby

The new Gatsbys


Gatsby and the robots

Wednesday, 26 August, 2015 0 Comments

“Belief in ‘the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us,’ as F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby, is a characteristic American trait.” So writes the seasoned pundit as he prepares his readers for a think pieces on… robots. Watch now how he deploys Gatsby:

“Is a yet more orgiastic future beckoning? Today’s Gatsbys have no doubt that the answer is yes: humanity stands on the verge of breakthroughs in information technology, robotics, and artificial intelligence that will dwarf what has been achieved in the past two centuries. Human beings will be able to live still more like gods because they are about to create machines like gods: not just strong and swift but also supremely intelligent and even self-creating.”

Gatsby But just in case the tech-optimism gets out of hand, our pundit reaches for Mary Shelley, creator of “the cautionary tale of Frankenstein”. Intelligent machines have a scary side and this could herald “great dangers,” such as “soaring unemployment and inequality.” Is this, then, our destiny? “The answer is no.” Hawking, Musk and Gates may be sounding the alarm bells but, “What we know for the moment is that there is nothing extraordinary in the changes we are now experiencing. We have been here before and on a much larger scale.”

Bottom line: “The future does not have to be a disappointment. But as Gatsby learned, it can all too easily be just that.” All this, and more, can be found in “Same as It Ever Was: Why the Techno-optimists Are Wrong” by Martin Wolf in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs. The article shows how useful Gatsby can be as an inspiration for, well, anything, including robots. The novel never gets tired.

Tomorrow, here, Jay Gatsby is sent to the front lines of the gender wars. Gays and feminists battle it out as they seek deeper meaning between the sheets, er, pages.


The black Gatsby

Tuesday, 25 August, 2015 1 Comment

The gay editor Aaron Hicklin asked a group of people to name the 10 books they’d take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. Ta-Nehisi Coates, author and national correspondent for the Atlantic, began his list with The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. “Basically the finest essay I’ve ever read,” he says of it. Next is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. “I’m a sucker for efficiency. This book gets so much out of what is, ultimately, a rather slim story. I adore it,” writes Coates.

A rather slim story? Is he talking about length or bulk? At 180 pages, Gatsby is compact, but it’s still bigger than Between the World and Me, the latest Coates book, which weighs in at a slender 152 pages. Although Coates is no Fitzgerald (his writing is too unwieldy), he does offer an occasional flash of Fitzgerald-like sparkle: “The robbery of time is not measured in lifespans but in moments. It is the last bottle of wine you have just uncorked but have not time to drink.”

Gatsby And now, the real thing: “As we crossed Blackwell’s Island a limousine passed us, driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl. I laughed aloud as the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.” Does this passage suggest that Fitzgerald was an early advocate of #BlackLivesMatter or just another shill for white privilege? According to The Uppity Negro, aka Joshua L. Lazard, the Gatsby masterpiece is an embodiment of American Blackness and Baz Luhrmann’s recent film of the novel, thanks to “hip hop music set in a story from the 1920s”, brings to the surface what had been hidden. The story of Jay Gatsby — “a man who didn’t fit in the society that he claimed and so desperately wanted to join” — is the story of black America. Snippet:

“Even when he had entrée, and actually created his own entrée, he was a lonely man surrounded by hundreds; he was alone at his own party. The blackness of it was that he was in and of himself a ‘second America’ created because of the forces of the society that dictated what success was and his struggle to obtain it. He was met with the existential question that Black America faces today: now that I have it, what do I do with it? Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but as the parties ended, Gatsby fired his waitstaff, New York was plunged into a post Gatsby era, and for many as Obama has ascended to the presidency, twice now, the phrase post racial constantly gets thrown around careless like a champagne bottle at a mansion party in West Egg.”

Yes, it is a bit of a stretch, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, as Robert Browning said. Thursday, here, in keeping with our times, the gay Gatsby and the feminist Gatsby. Tomorrow, Gatsby and robotics. Honestly.


Gatsby: Sam Guo as James Gatz

Monday, 24 August, 2015 1 Comment

With his vast wealth, James Gatz purchased a lavish mansion on Long Island and proceeded to throw elaborate parties. Those who swam in the rivers of booze during those wild nights at West Egg didn’t know he was born James Gatz, however. To them, he was Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire. Likewise with Kui Zhang Guo, a Chinese businessman who bought a manor for $11.45 million in the upscale Hunters Hill area of Sydney last year. Gatsby He prefers to go by his anglicized name, Sam Guo, writes the Sydney Morning Herald, which begins its story about his fabulous parties thus: “His neighbours have already dubbed him the ‘Chinese Gatsby’, which judging by the largesse in the form of rivers of French champagne and no expense spared parties inside his lavish Hunters Hill mansion, would seem like a fitting nom de plume for Kui Zhang Guo.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald would have loved it. The Guo-Gatz symbolism is uncanny and with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting another awful day at the exchanges “as tanking Chinese sharemarkets wipe out the past two years of gains on the local bourse”, the scene is set, perfectly, for our annual reading of The Great Gatsby. Let’s kick off with a passage that reflects the thrill of the party on the edge of the abyss:

“The last swimmers have come in from the beach now and are dressing up-stairs; the cars from New York are parked five deep in the drive, and already the halls and salons and verandas are gaudy with primary colors, and hair shorn in strange new ways, and shawls beyond the dreams of Castile. The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.

The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun, and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music, and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word.”

Tomorrow, here, a hot young writer on the enduring greatness of Gatsby.


Gatsby was cool

Friday, 17 April, 2015 0 Comments

By the 1920s, the word “cool” had changed from being associated solely with temperature to a term of appreciation. In 1924, Anna Lee Chisholm recorded Cool Kind Daddy Blues, and Zora Neale Hurston, in her short story The Gilded Six-Bits, wrote of a male character: “And whut make it so cool, he got money ‘cumulated. And womens give it all to ‘im.” When he came to write The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald knew that the alluring masculinity of Gatsby was summed up by “cool”:

“Who wants to go to town?” demanded Daisy insistently.
Gatsby’s eyes floated toward her.
“Ah,” she cried, “you look so cool.”
Their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table.
“You always look so cool,” she repeated.
She had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw. His mouth opened a little and he looked at Gatsby and then back at Daisy as if he had just recognized her as someone he knew a long time ago.”

With this excerpt, our tribute to the 90th anniversary of The Great Gatsby, first published on 10 April 1925, draws to a close. We look forward to 2025 and the centenary of the masterpiece.


Gatsby at 90

Monday, 13 April, 2015 0 Comments

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, turned 90 last Friday. To mark the milestone, Rainy Day will be devoting this week’s posts to that most magical of novels.

When Fitzgerald died in 1940, aged 44, copies of the second printing of the book were piled up unsold in bookstores across the USA. Now, Scribner sells more than 500,000 copies a year. When did Gatsby go from failure to success? There’s a good argument to be made that the critical year was 1951. That was when J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye was published. At one point, Holden Caulfield notes that his older brother made him read Fitzgerald’s book. “I was crazy about The Great Gatsby,” Holden tells us. “Old Gatsby. Old sport. That killed me.” With the imprimatur of Holden Caulfield, a new generation felt compelled to read Gatsby and the momentum continues to this day.

“There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Tomorrow, here, nary a superfluous word.


One of the great sentences: No. 2

Monday, 19 May, 2014 0 Comments

“Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.” F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Why is this great? The audacity of it all, for starters. The idea that the trees which once stood on the site of Gatsby’s house were so magnificent that they could have played a role in the “last and greatest of all human dreams” is outlandish, but the author is in full flight here and intoxicated with his imagination. There are passages of expression in Gatsby that rightfully have been compared to music, and there are others in the novel that have been likened to magic and this is one that contains a little of both. Fitzgerald’s ability to display those vanished trees is one of his greatest conjuring tricks.

One of the great sentences: No. 1


Summer in the city

Monday, 8 July, 2013 0 Comments

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


The only Gatsby review you need to read

Friday, 17 May, 2013 0 Comments

In the 1974 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford, Daisy Buchanan, played by Mia Farrow, tells Gatsby: “Rich girls don’t marry poor boys.” The line appears nowhere in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel and with good reason because by the time Daisy makes this remark in the Redford film, Jay Gatsby is very rich, which makes it an extremely silly thing for her to say. In his adaptation of the book, Baz Luhrmann avoids all such infelicities. His interpretation hews close to the original written word, and when he departs from the text it’s always to enhance the story with tweaks that support the astonishing visuals, made all the more fantastic in 3-D. These images are mainly of the vulgar culture of new money, which is what causes Daisy ultimately to leave Gatsby at the end of the story and stick with her brutal, boorish but old money husband.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

The moral of the story is that the elite win, always. Despite all the talk of meritocracy, it is a class-based society that Fitzgerald is writing about, and those who work hard, like poor Mr Wilson, are treated like dirt, and those who try to clamber to the top, like poor Jimmy Gatz, are treated with contempt.

Jordan Baker With Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, two uniquely talented actors lead Baz Luhrmann’s latest charge into the classics and they’re ably supported by a cast in which Elizabeth Debicki, who plays Jordan Baker, is outstanding. Carey Mulligan is a rather pallid Daisy Buchanan, while Joel Edgerton as her husband Tom is the only weak link in the chain. Otherwise, this is as good as it gets. Thanks to Luhrmann, Gatsby continues to be “great” because the film, like the book, contrasts idealism with corruption and bravely accepts the reality of death and loss.

The brash new world of the New World, with its sexual freedom, motorcars, youth, money, gin, rum and whiskey is in your face throughout the film and Baz Luhrmann makes the real star of the novel, pagan and glamorous New York City, look like the magic kingdom. Do see it.